Identity Theft Laws

Identity theft can be a white collar crime and / or an internet crime. It is both a violation of state law as well as a federal offense, which means that if you are charged with identity theft, you can be tried in state court and federal court. The penalties for federal charges can be much more severe than typical state charges, which is why it is crucial that you retain a qualified lawyer when accused of any type of identity theft in Florida.

The Tampa criminal defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk are highly experienced at handling cases in federal courts. Read the rest of the blog for more insight and call our firm for counsel: (813) 321-7323.

What Does the Law Say About Identity Theft?

Under Florida statute, identity theft is also known as the criminal use of personal identification information. Personal identification information can be any of the following, or any combination of the following:

  • Name
  • Address
    Email Address
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Bank Account Number
  • Credit Card Number
  • Debit Card Number
  • Pin Codes
  • Passport Number
  • Driver's License Number
  • Medical Records
  • Electronic IDs
Identity theft may be committed in a number of different ways, such as impersonating someone in order to gain access to secure identification information, counterfeiting personal identification information, or using another’s personal identification information for illegal purposes, such as theft or harassment.

Types of Identity Theft

Florida law classifies a number of different types of identity theft including:

  • Criminal Use / Possession of Personal Identification Information – Under § 817.568(2), an individual can be charged for fraudulently using or possessing another’s personal identification information without consent. This offense can be as serious as a first degree felony depending on the number of victims and other circumstances.
  • Use / Possession of a Deceased Person's Information – Under § 817.568(8), you can be charged for using or possessing the personal identification information of a deceased person through fraudulent means.
  • Obtaining Property by False Personation – If you falsely present yourself or impersonate another individual to gain funds, property, etc., you can face a felony or misdemeanor charge under § 817.02.
  • Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information to Harass – Identity theft can also be used to harass, not just steal money. This offense, under § 817.568(4), is considered any use of another’s personal identification information without consent in order to harass that person (first degree misdemeanor).
  • Use of a Minor’s Personal Identification Information – Similar to other offenses, § 817.568(6) says that the fraudulent use of a minor’s personal identification information is a second degree felony.
  • Counterfeit / Fictitious Personal Identification Information – Possessing with the intent to use or using fictitious personal identification information with the intention of commitment fraud is a felony under § 817.568(9) in Florida.

What Are the Penalties for Identity Theft?

Under the law, identity theft alone is often considered just a first degree misdemeanor; however, depending on the means used to obtain the information and actions taken, you could also be facing a first degree felony.

A first degree felony can result in 20 years to life in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and other consequences. A second degree felony also carries a heavy prison term of up to 15 years and a $10,000 fine. A lesser, third degree felony can result in up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. If convicted of a first degree misdemeanor, you could have up to one year behind bars and a $1,000—a second degree misdemeanor carries an even light 60-day maximum in jail and $500 fine. In addition, you may be held accountable for paying restitution to the victim when applicable.